The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Lion’s Mane

Image credit: Henk Monster, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Lion’s Mane mushrooms (Hericium Erinaceus) apparently earned their regal name from their unusual appearance. The lion’s mane is a symbol of health and potency and for this reason, this is an apt name as this fungus also exudes power, excellence, and authority, making it the king of the mushrooms. 

Multiple other nicknames include Monkey’s Head, bearded tooth fungus, hedgehog mushroom, pom pom blanc, and Yamabushitake. Whatever you choose to call it, this edible fungus has been dubbed the smart mushroom as it has the ability to improve cognitive function, memory, and mood. 

The Lion’s Mane mushroom has long been regarded as a potent tool for improving brain function and aiding in the treatment of a variety of medical ailments, as well as depression and anxiety. Medicinal mushrooms have been utilised as a successful remedy for centuries, dating back to the time of Egyptian Pharaohs and ancient Chinese medical practitioners. Lion’s Mane is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. Mushrooms are prized for their medicinal value as well as their culinary appeal. 

Brain Health

The ability of the brain to expand and make new connections decreases with age, which may explain why mental functioning deteriorates with age. Hericenones and erinacines, two unique chemicals found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms, have been found to increase the formation of brain cells. It aids in the generation of nerve growth factor (NGF). NGF is a neuropeptide that aids in the maintenance of neurons while also stimulating their differentiation and re-myelination. Neurons are cells that assist our brains in processing and transmitting information, hence boosting cognitive performance. 

More studies are needed, but it is said that some of the favourable benefits on brain health may be explained by its ability to increase neuron growth and protect the brain from Alzheimer’s related damage. The mushroom has also been demonstrated to help guard against other neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Because of its brain-boosting properties, it is classified as a nootropic, which roughly translates as “smart medicine.”

The antioxidant content of Lion’s Mane supports cellular health. The body’s ability to produce energy is aided by the presence of antioxidants. The mushrooms have been demonstrated to lower lactic acid levels in the blood, allowing you to recover faster after strenuous exercise.

Human research is sparse, however, studies on rats have revealed that Lion’s Mane extract can even speed up the recovery time from nervous system damage.

Mood and Stress Support

The anti-inflammatory properties of Lion’s Mane mushroom extract can help with anxiety and depression symptoms. Research has suggested that Lion’s Mane mushroom decreases the symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties and mood disorders. The fungus Lion’s Mane contains is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that may even help to decrease the effects of chronic illness.

So if this mushroom can assist with lessening the effects of stress and illness so that your brain is able to function at an optimum level, it will give you that boost we often need in today’s rat race world. It is safe to eat Lion’s Mane fungi, and it is commonly available online on sites such as and at health food stores. Fresh Lion’s Mane mushrooms are hard to come by so most people consume them as tinctures or powders. 

Taking Lion’s Mane has no known negative side effects. However, because it is a fungus, anyone who is allergic or sensitive to mushrooms should avoid it. The allergic reactions that have been reported include difficulty breathing and skin rashes.

Nutritional Value

Raw, cooked, dried, or steeped as a tea, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are described as having a seafood flavour like crab or lobster. They’re a form of mushroom that doesn’t contain the chemical psilocybin, which is found in hallucinogenic mushrooms so you will not experience intoxication or hallucinations. 

These fungi contain a wide range of nutrients that have widespread health benefits. Essential amino acids, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B1, Vitamin E, and glucan polysaccharides are all found in Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Is it any wonder it is called a smart mushroom?

Gut Health and Skin Support

Gut health is known to have an impact on your overall health and well-being. Lion’s Mane mushrooms contain a high antioxidant content which suggests they can aid in regulating intestinal bacteria.

Being a natural antioxidant, and having anti-inflammatory components, they can help with skin problems too. Hericium Erinaceus, when used topically, has been found to hasten wound healing, for example.

While the current research is encouraging, more human studies are needed before the Lion’s Mane mushroom can be prescribed in more practical health applications. It’s intriguing and fascinating to think that a mushroom might have such an impact on brain-boosting compounds. The amazing health benefits should make it a must-have item on your shopping list.

Author’s bio
Riley Cooper is UK born writer who develops feature articles, global news & opinion pieces, her work explores issues related to pop culture, history, and language.